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Jewelry Making News, Tips, Tutorials, and Reviews

So everyone knows about the dangers of lead in children’s toys and other items being talked about in the news lately. Well, if you make jewelry for a living or as a hobby you might not have thought about the possibility that your jewelry might also contain certain amounts of lead.

It’s used sometimes in base metals in order to make them more pliable and to give base metal a heavier feel. It’s also cheaper than other metals like zinc, and may also be used as a stabilizer in plastic.

I don’t think ethical jewelry makers (especially the ones making hand-made, one of a kind jewelry) are going to be using any of those materials on purpose. But in any case, it’s probably a good idea to keep tabs on what materials you’re using and where you’re buying them from. Also, if you live in California, there’s actually a newer law called the Lead-Containing Jewelry Law) that was enacted to limit lead in jewelry - especially children’s jewerly and body piercing jewelry.

Continue reading “Lead and Jewelry Making” …

10/25/07 | TQB Designs

TQB Designs - Neck Wrap Bettys Apron - on Jewelry Making at BloglanderI was quite taken with these interesting beaded jewelry pieces from Lisa of TQB Designs. She creates each of these wonderful small “circles, dots, rounds and spheres” by weaving a gourd stitch pattern with seed beads on top of a wooden core, and then uses them in her jewelry along with hand-crafted metal findings.

From far away, the little seed bead rounds look amazingly like nuts, or fruits (particularly, some sort of berry). The care and time that go into making each of these little rounds must be tremendous; I know because we do beaded rings and they take a long time - and it probably takes much longer to create a whole sphere like these. Each bead has between 50 and 500 individual seed beads!

Lisa is self-taught and has been making these bead rounds for over a decade. Shown above is the Betty’s Apron Neck Wrap, which contains seven bead rounds (in duckling, tangerine, cinnamon, mushroom, cilantro and chartreuse colors) along with brushed oxidized and sterling silver findings.

TQB Designs - Garnet Dot Earring - on Jewelry Making at BloglanderShe has some “harvest” colors available that are meant for the Fall season - warm shades of red, brown, orange and gold. Here’s an example of one of the earrings using a garnet red color for the bead rounds - they are paired with silver handmade ear wires and filigree bead caps. I can’t believe how much they look like natural berries!

Neck Wrap - Betty’s Apron - $120
Garnet Filigree Dot Earrings - $38
available at TQB Designs

9/27/07 | Bead Loom

Bead Loom on Jewelry Making at Bloglander

I was surfing around looking for interesting beading things to write about and came across this Bead Loom Kit from Shure Products. I haven’t actually tried out the product, but was hoping that if a reader has gotten this item they could chime in as to how they like it in the comments. I’m especially interested in whether this is something an adult might enjoy, because at first glance it definitely looks like a kid’s toy - they say that it’s meant for 7 years and up due to the small beads and the skill needed to put them in the loom.

They say that you can use the loom to weave bracelets, necklaces, earrings and rings. The loom itself is wooden - I’m not sure how sturdy it is though and I wonder if you could just go to the Home Depot and make one yourself. They give you a starter selection of glass and seed beads (over 1000), cord, jump rings, and clasps along with an instruction booklet. The patterns that are shown look sort of like some of the Native American beading styles. While I’m a bit hesitant how worthwhile this bead loom might be, the price is definitely not too bad, and a bonus is that if you’re starting out making jewelry you can use the leftover beads for other projects.

Bead Loom - $24.95
available at
also available at

I’ve been seriously neglecting the Jewelry Making reader mailbag lately. This question was actually posted in a comment, but I decided to move it up to the main page because others have asked this question before. And most importantly, I have no idea! I would one day like to experiment with soldering, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Tim W. asks:

Help! I need a reliable torch that has adjustable flames for small and large silver projects. The more I research the confuseder I get. Some say that acetyline has too much soot others say that propane is the way to go. I don’t know but we are having a hard time getting enough heat on larger projects to get the soldering done when I use a standard bernzomatic torch from the hardware store. Not to mention the flame getting smaller and larger it you tilt the bottle… What torch do you recommend?

If you make these torches or are a jewelry maker and have soldering suggestions, please leave a comment. However: while I don’t mind others pointing people in the right direction via commercial links in comments, please put your link in an “href” tag and don’t write out the entire URL - that tends to break my blog column formatting. Also, please DO NOT put 4-5 links, just the one will do!

Lady Luck - on Jewelry Making at BloglanderThere is some unbelievably cute things over at Lady Luck Rules OK. The store sort of reminds me of Fred Flare with an extra emphasis on super bright and delightful things like jewelry, paper goods, stationery and accessories like hair goodies, caps, and purses.

I don’t know too much about the online store itself (because there is no “about section” up yet, but I believe they are in England) but it was almost impossible not to make a post about their Teeny Bopper Rings which have been brought back by popular demand.

Teeny Bopper Ring, Lady Luck - on Jewelry Making at BloglanderThe one shown at right is the “Arty Craft Gal” Teeny Bopper Ring which is a flocked orange case packed with artsy miniature button goodies like scissors, a pencil sharpener, a candy cotton reel and a clock. There are two others - the “True Romance” which is a rose with different “date” trinkets and the “Picnic Party” which has little food items inside a turquoise pear. All three feature an adjustable ring to fit on all fingers.

Teeny Bopper Rings - £15
Lady Luck Rules OK

8/16/07 | Experimetal

Experimetal - featured on Jewelry Making at Bloglander

Wow, I had decided to take a little break on posting but that quickly turned into several months! Welcome back to me. As I said before, until I get more time I’m going to focus on shorter posts, and leave the full “how-to” write-ups until a later time. Maybe I’ll try get some jewelry makers to contribute (I don’t know how I’d be able to pay you to write up techniques though…)

Finding jewelry makers on Etsy can be somewhat of a tossup. There are some truly amazing designers coming out of the woodwork now that there is an easy to use artisitc network and selling framework provided by Etsy. However, that same ease also lets in the copycats and knock-offs of jewelry that belongs at walmart more than on the web.

This is definitely not the case with Experimetal. Seattle resident Victoria Takahashi creates some truly uniquely organic and earthy pieces of jewelry and sells it through Etsy. She focuses on mostly one-of-a-kind pieces and has a good selection of necklaces, rings, brooches, earrings and bracelets. As her moniker suggests, much of the jewelry focuses on experimental, though very cleanly designed, metal working. She uses gold, silver, and copper in combination with shell, stone, and various small gemstones in her work. Like many jewelry makers, she’s mostly self-taught. Here’s a little bit from her bio:

Lets see, I started making jewelry in 1993. I took 2 quarters at a local community college, and traded work study for classes at a non-profit art school for about 3 years. Since that first class I just started to make metal stuff. I was very fortunate and got really positive and honest responses from friends and family, then it just rolled forward from there.

Captive Stone in Round BoxHere’s an example of one of her necklaces. This interesting piece features a pendant that is a round window box with a smooth beach stone encapsulated in it. The necklace is sterling silver and has a 1mm snake chain to complete it. I have to say that we have found one of the most important things with selling your jewelry online is to make sure the photographs of your work are clear, detailed, well-posed and… well, at least a little bit interesting. This shouldn’t SEEM to matter, but it certainly does - it’s because online a potential buyer has absolutely no way to judge a piece except by the photo. They can’t pick up the piece and look at it. Victoria presents her pieces in a really great way with nice backdrops.

Rununcula Blossom Bracelet CuffHere’s another one of the many jewelry pieces that really stand out from the rest of the crowd. This is a bracelet cuff that features a Rununcula flower blossom made out of two pieces of shaped copper. They are riveted onto a 7.25 inch leather cuff and the overall presentation is very simple yet beautiful. If you have a chance, check out some of the items in the Experimetal store.

Captive Stone in Round Box - $72
Rununcula Blossom Bracelet Cuff - $36
Experimetal (Victoria Takahashi)

Sorry about the recent lack of posts… I had tried to clear more space in the week to work on Jewelry Making but it’s clearly become difficult because in the past I’ve tried to make each post an in-depth article, even the ones about DIY jewelry. I’ll be trying to write shorter posts, more of a “what’s up” look at other jewelry makers rather than full writeups, in the interest of time. Thanks for your patience with this.

Green Fuse Wire Works - on Jewelry Making at Bloglander

I saw some very nice wire based jewelry over at Green Fuse Wire Works, including this “Pepita D’Oro Bracelet” made of chunks of amber or topaz colored Italian art glass that is lined on the inside with gold or silver foil. It’s wirewrapped and sports the occasional playful spirals curl of silver wire.

Felicia Parsons runs Green Fuse which focuses on wire wrapped jewelry with an eye toward environmental and fair trade concerns.

Pepita D’Oro Bracelet - $75
Green Fuse Wire Works

This month, I’d originally planned to write up a few projects detailing some simple jewelry projects that might make great gifts for Mother’s Day. However, time (as usual) flew past and I don’t have the time to take all the pictures. But I just saw on the Jewelry Making site that they have a few mother’s day projects already lined up so you might want to head over there if you’re searching for ideas of jewelry to make for mom.

Some of the projects include a Rose Quartz “Love” Pendant and a Bracelet for Grandma.

Read: Mother’s Day Jewelry Projects

Jewelry Making at Bloglander - Beading Tray Idea

If you are using large quantities of smaller beads, you’re probably going to want to figure out some way to contain the beads such as a beading tray. When we first started out making jewelry, we didn’t really have any type of workstation for beading. So most often, we would simply dump out the beads we needed onto a smooth surface like a desk or table - and away we would go. This actually isn’t so much a problem - it’s the cleanup that can be tough, especially if your beads accidentally get mixed up on the table.

In addition, those round beads tend to have a mind of their own and we’ve ended up more than once with a shower of them on the floor after they rolled off the table. You can alleviate this by putting some sort of coarse fabric under the round ones so they don’t roll as much. But we found that using a beading needle (or simply the end of some beading wire) to pick them up through the hole got to be difficult because the end of the wire or needle would often “catch” on the fabric - especially if it was fuzzy.

They do sell a number of beading trays and devices that you can use. One quite handy tray, which is meant for necklaces, contains a circular form for you to place the beads in so that you can see the order before stringing them, and several sections for you to place loose beads in. Another one, which we actually use sometimes for seed beading, is a harder plastic rectangular tray with straight sides but no compartments. You place a large amount of small beads in there, and in the corner of the bead tray is a little hole with a screwcap on it. Cleanup for this tray is quite easy - you just tilt the tray so that all the beads run to the corner with the screwcap and then unscrew it over your seed bead container. The beads run right out into the container.

Continue reading “Ideas for Beading Trays” …

Jewelry Making at Bloglander - Anna Sofia Designs

Anna Sofia uses an interesting material for the bulk of her jewelry: Paper! Using a variety of brightly colored decorative papers, she fashions glazed paper pieces for use in necklaces, earrings and bracelets. The papers most often used are Japanese Chiyogami (vibrant silkscreened paper reminiscient of kimono patterns) and Katazome-shi (stencil-dyed paper with softer and organic design).

Her jewelry is strung on silver chain and findings, and she also makes use of crystals, semi-precious stones and pearls as accents. But the real stars in her jewelry are definitely the multicolored paper centerpieces. I didn’t know this, but each glazed bead consists of a core made of illustration board which is then covered with the paper, one surface at a time! The paper bead is then sealed with a special glaze to protect it and give it some shine.

Jewelry Making at Bloglander - Anna Sofia, Besito NecklaceThere are so many wonderful designs in different shapes and colors that it was difficult to pick out just a few to show. This Besito Necklace is an example of the pretty colors and designs available. The pendant is made out of orange, ochre and green floral Chiyogami paper and then strung on a sterling silver chain. It’s a very pretty piece in the shape of a rounded rectangle. You can see how the side of the beads is actually covered separately.

Jewelry Making at Bloglander - Anna Sofia, Monteverde EarringsThese Monteverde Earrings consist of three connected paper bead rounds that feature green lotus designs on stencil-dyed Katazome-shi paper. They dangle 2.5 inches long from sterling silver ear wires and are connected with jump rings. Fun, flirty and fresh. There seriously are a ton of different paper designs on the earrings so you should take a look at all of them on the site.

Besito Necklace, $43
Monteverde Earrings, $35
at: Anna Sofia Designs